"On August 13, 2017, as a result of joint actions by the Russian Aerospace Forces, Syrian government troops and militia units in the east of the province of Homs, the town of As-Sukhnah was completely freed from Daesh terrorists".
These gains enable further advances into eastern areas held by Islamic State (ISIS), including the province of Deir al-Zor, where the circle around jihadists is slowly forming as the government forces are pushing from their positions in southern parts of Raqqa province.
The militants have lost swathes of Syrian territory to separate campaigns being waged by government forces backed by Russian Federation and Iran, and by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which is dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia. The SDF is now focused on capturing Raqa city from Daish.
Islamic State controls almost all of Deir al-Zor, which is bordered to the east by Iraq.
The liberation of as-Sukhnah opens the road to the key Euphrates city of Deir ez-Zor, which has been under IS siege after being cut off from the other government-controlled areas during the May 2015 terrorist offensive on Palmyra. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said the town was captured after heavy army artillery fire and air strikes by government ally Russian Federation.
The Syrian army has been under siege in a tiny portion of the city for nearly three years, and terrorist forces still surround the city.
Earlier on Sunday, in an interview with the Rossiya 24 television channel, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said de-blocking of Deir ez-Zor, which has been seized by the Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) for a few years, would be a milestone in fighting terrorism in Syria. "Perhaps in the next few weeks, that would be a tangible objective to see it happen", he told RT.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the volunteers had been killed by bullets to the head.
The White Helmets emerged in 2013, working to rescue civilians in rebel-held areas.